Feminist Friday Finale: How Can What We Love Make The World a Better Place?

Popular culture has been impactful and able to cause change worldwide. Case in point, it was the year of the social movements, self-love, and using humor and entertainment to help others. 2017 was a big year for many reasons, but in general, the community building and bonding were beginning to grow after divisiveness started to tear the country apart last year. In this piece, I will examine the various blogs that my classmates posted that show how popular culture and things that we love can make the world a better, more united place.Screen_Shot_2016-04-27_at_5.24.56_PM.0.0.png

In Michaela Deck’s blog post on “How Rick and Morty Make The World A Better Place” Deck used one of my favorite shows to show its impact on society. The show is not just made for cynical humor or for teenagers to watch while they are getting stoned, but it features valid messages about life and society. I find that Rick and Morty have been one of the few shows that illustrates actual life lessons that are not entirely problematic while also being funny.

In the beginning, Deck mentions the “elitism and ignorance” that can occur “in any fandom.” This is undoubtedly true and reigns especially true today. I noticed this with Rick and Morty but also in other popular culture fandoms. Celebrities have fandoms, like Lady Gaga, that will attack anyone on social media that is critical of their idol. This sense of complete idolatry and being out of touch with reality is what makes some fandoms toxic. However, I would argue that fandoms produce great qualities and a sense of camaraderie for people who wants to feel social connection and passion about what they love with others.

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Furthermore, in Rick and Morty there is an excellent message for our generation that Deck points out which is a love of science and education. This passion, as Deck points out, is necessary, especially in our current political climate and falling educational standing in the world. Rick and Morty also have messages about letting go and being more at peace with ourselves. Many of us are too consumed with work and school to realize how important other aspects of our lives are like family, love, and happiness and that we need to cherish those. It also focuses on important issues like mental illness and how detrimental it can be to our being. It is necessary to take care of these problems and to get help when we need it. Rick and Morty just continue to illustrate the good that popular culture and fandoms can do for this generation. The entertaining and easily digestible content is what makes the show brilliant while bringing up important life issues.

Anna Sawtelle examines “Body Positivity in Fashion” and the vital need for this after years of body negativity being the norm and status quo. I have been researching gendered bodies in advertising and fashion for years, and every year I see improvements from when I was first starting to notice the importance placed on a woman’s size at a young age. Anna Sawtelle’s piece looks at how much things have changed in recent year with body positivity and not just appreciated larger body types but ALL body types. Popular culture has become an essential tool for a call to action to society to stop teaching woman and girls to shame each other for their bodies and for society to accept that every shape is beautiful. Popular culture can shape these societal views in a way that makes everybody and their flaws accepted.

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In the subsequent parts of the blog, Sawtelle looks at how new body positivity campaigns in the fashion industry are opening up and changing the way they view models and women. One part that struck me was Jasmine Tookes’ “Unretouched Fantasy Bra Photos.” Sawtelle mentions that women of larger sizes are obviously part of this body positivity campaigns but so should women who are, according to society’s standards, skinny. Ms. Tookes’ stretchmarks are visible in this unretouched photo in her Victoria’s Secret campaign. I think it is important also not to shame skinner women who are naturally thin, especially as our society is moving towards standards that emulate the curvy bodies of women like Nicki Minaj and Kim Kardashian. My mind always goes to Nicki Minaj’s problematic lyrics in her “Anaconda” song where she says, “F*ck the skinny b*tches in the club… f*ck you if you skinny b*tches, what?” Lyrics like these continue to add to the problem of body negativity and help society move in another direction that marginalizes and discriminates against particular bodies again.dove.jpg

Sawtelle believes we are moving in the right direction for body positivity and thinks that the fashion industry is essential in trying “to make a difference in the way women feel about themselves” (Sawtelle). Popular culture is used here to advertise that “normal” is sometimes contrived and that not all women look like these models in the magazine and on the screen. Popular culture gives representation to others who do not represent this “norm, ” and these fashion campaigns can push this idea and change these standards for the betterment of women and their lives.

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Wrapping it up, I am going to take a look at Paulina Perkaus’s second blog post, in which she also discusses the #MeToo campaign and movement. I had also previously addressed this in one of my blog posts for “Feminist Friday- A Look At The #MeToo Movement, ” and it continues to be a topic of fascination for me. Perkaus’s eloquent writing and look into the actual creation of the #MeToo campaign was a necessary read for me and many others to further our knowledge about a profoundly complex movement that has changed the lives of many survivors. Continued and steady exposure of the #MeToo movement is crucial to transforming the silence around sexual assault and harassment.

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Popular culture like social media has been able to aid and create a transparency that unites survivors of sexual misconduct in unprecedented ways. Social media has been able to facilitate this accountability of the accused even if the criminal justice system is slow to help. The connection makes victims feel less alone, and we can see social media’s impact for that reason alone.

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Perkaus first looks at the person who created the #MeToo campaign, Tarana Burke. Burke’s story of being a survivor and listening to another survivor’s story and saying to herself “me too” launched a movement that resonated with countless women and men. The phrase “me too” is simple, blunt, and full of meaning that can help bond survivors as they continue their journey through life. The phrase is perfect for a hashtag that can be incredibly transformative through social media and various physical campaigns.

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Then, Perkaus examines the effects of celebrity involvement in the movement and the staggering amount of survivors employing the #MeToo. “According to CBS News, the movement saw 1.7 million posts throughout 85 countries” (Perkaus). Similar to my post, she mentions how the rich and powerful like Kesha and Taylor Swift faced these issues as women and were able to find justice one way or another. Whether it was through music or the actual judicial system, it made victims believe it was possible to speak out against the accused. Social media was able to spread these stories and help these survivors get their stories out to others and to be role models. These celebrities were able to employ social media to bring attention and cause change against gendered violence effectively.

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Social media has a lot of faults, without a doubt. However, it also has the potential to evoke incredible and necessary change from the current world we live in today. The Black Lives Matter Movement was able to use social media to their advantage. They connected with people who wanted to invoke change, hold protests, and spread information about various injustices to the black community including police brutality. This movement changed racial politics in America. Now, The #MeToo movement is on the same path. Social media was able to hopefully create social change in the arena of gender politics and gendered violence. Men and women have been able to stand up and support survivors through these social media platforms and hold many of the accused accountable. Whether its Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, John Conyers, Bill O’Reilly, and countless others, they are finally being held responsible for their actions and for making men and women feel unsafe in this world. As I am writing this, there was an announcement that Time’s Person of the Year are the “silence breakers” of the #MeToo Movement. Without a doubt, they sure as hell deserve it. In addition to the #MeToo movement, these fandoms like Rick and Morty and the body positivity campaign all were able to use popular culture to make the world a better place. It united people and their tastes, preferences, and desires for change. Social media was undoubtedly the most critical facilitator for all these topics.

 

Sources:

https://www.polygon.com/2017/6/26/15873642/rick-and-morty-season-three-delay-fights-harmon-roiland

http://www.dorkly.com/post/85187/15-rick-and-morty-cosplays-good-enough-to-cure-your-nihilism

http://subversify.com/2017/10/19/metoo/

http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/politics/a13091573/backlash-metoo-movement/

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/20/us/me-too-movement-tarana-burke.html

https://www.theodysseyonline.com/on-black-lives-matter

http://time.com/time-person-of-the-year-2017-silence-breakers/

https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/pop/7857746/kesha-returns-praying-video

https://theculturecritic.wordpress.com/2016/11/06/why-the-body-positivity-movement-isnt-really-that-positive/

https://ansa9349.wixsite.com/worldoffashion/single-post/2017/11/28/Body-Positivity-in-Fashion

https://fandom3246.wordpress.com/2017/11/10/blog-post-2/

https://michaelablogweb.wordpress.com/2017/12/02/how-rick-and-morty-makes-the-world-a-better-place/

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Feminist Fridays: A Case Study on Lena Dunham’s Victim Shaming and Hipster Racism

Similar to last week’s post about Taylor Swift, Lena Dunham has been on my list of hypocritical feminists. Also similar to Swift, although I disagree with their politics and decisions, as a feminist it is important to note that it is their right to choose to be awful. It is also my right to criticize self-proclaimed feminists when they fail to be inclusive and progressive in their feminist ideals.

Lena Dunham has been in the news for her failure to believe a sexual assault victim after the #MeToo campaign allowed many survivors to come forward with their stories of assault in the entertainment industry. Following that, one of Dunham’s writers, Zinzi Clemmons, of her weekly newspaper “Lenny Letter” exposed Dunham for her “hipster racism.” So basically, Dunham is on a roll. Lena Dunham’s decision to victim shame and not believe a survivor of sexual assault, in addition to her support of racist epithets within her social circle, is why she is the subject of my blog post this week (Gibson). As Roxane Gay noted, it is okay to be a bad feminist. Feminists are allowed to make mistakes. However, feminists also need to stand up together and prevent non-feminists who label themselves as such from damaging feminist ideals of what it actually means to be a supporter of gender equality.  Supporting racism and victim-blaming are acts that stand in direct opposition to present-day feminism. As I mentioned earlier this week in a tweet referencing Lena Dunham, “if women don’t have each other’s backs then who will?”

I support a specific type of feminism: intersectional feminism. As Zinzi Clemmons stated, “women of color” need to band together after Dunham claimed the sexual assault survivor, Aurora Perrineau, was lying about of one of the writers on her show Girls committing this act. Ms. Clemmons could take no more and took an important stance by leaving. I hope this issue is trivial but Ms. Perrineau is also a woman of color (Gibson). I understand that many things are stacked against Ms. Perrineau. I am a person of color, a sexual assault survivor, and a woman. To be quite honest, none of these odds have ever really worked favorably for me and countless other women of color. However, I am also an educated woman with an upper-middle-class background who is fortunate enough to be able to use her voice to support other survivors and speak out against social injustice.

 

Zinzi Clemmons speaks to me on a personal level that all women but especially women of color need to come together even if she, like others, might be “sacrificing some comfort and a little bit of cash” in order to hold, “Lena accountable.” What is “hipster racism?” Clemmons says she experienced this racism that, “typically uses sarcasm as a cover.” For several reasons I do not find necessary, I won’t rehash Lena Dunham’s past of sexually molesting her sister, or claiming that she wanted to have an abortion or even her attack on Odell Beckham. Why? Mainly because the internet has already taken care of her for that (Gibson). Dunham is a strain of problematic feminism. It seems obvious that she has made a brand out of being a “feminist” and applying this superficially to her life. Normally I like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, even when I do not agree with them, like Donald Trump and his various scandals (although that is no longer the case), but it seems fairly clear to me and other feminists that Lena Dunham never really means any of her apologies. She never thinks before she acts or speaks even though she has a widely visible platform and could genuinely damage what it means to be a feminist, in the eyes of those who may not understand the academic definition of feminism.

                         

       Lena Dunham may actually learn a valuable lesson. But honestly, I doubt it. Like I said at the beginning, it is okay to make mistakes and be a “bad feminist.” But Lena isn’t a 21 year old girl still trying to understand what it means to be a feminist and making understandable mistakes along the way. She is an influencer and a 31-year-old educated woman. Her words make a difference. Her actions make an even bigger difference. It is the 21st century and other feminists like myself will hold her accountable because victim shaming and racism are no longer acceptable to anyone, especially a self-proclaimed feminist. Her words and actions have been damaging for sexual assault survivors who may have wanted to come forward but feared non-believers like Lena Dunham. It is time to be held accountable Lena. You cannot claim to be a feminist and support this kind of behavior. It is troubling, to say the least. I hope that more women and men who are survivors of sexual assault and racism continue to come forward and speak out. I hope they listen to the backlash posed against non-believers like Lena Dunham and understand that it is unacceptable to victim-blame and shame.  You will believed. You will be heard. Even if influential figures choose not to believe you, someone will. I will.

Please call 800.656.HOPE (4673) to find support after sexual assault. 

Sources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2017/11/20/lena-dunhams-latest-controversy-sparks-a-call-for-women-of-color-to-stop-working-for-her/?utm_term=.47cd6ddc4377

https://www.rainn.org/about-national-sexual-assault-telephone-hotline

https://www.glamour.com/story/lena-dunham-has-an-important-update-about-her-health

https://www.vogue.com/article/zinzi-clemmons-what-we-lose-interview

https://www.google.com/search?q=aurora+perrineau&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjP-4fQ9dPXAhUL5WMKHam8CrAQ_AUICigB&biw=1280&bih=726#imgrc=YhgzL_6E2-F1UM:

Feminist Fridays- Excuse Me, Taylor Swift, Are You Trying to Impede on Free Speech?

I was dumbfounded, not very shocked honestly. Another negative headline about Taylor Swift? Hmmm, what is it this time?

Taylor Swift is threatening to sue a blogger for defamation after the blogger had made a post about Swift being a sympathizer to white supremacy causes like the KKK through her music. It is important to note that the blogger had less a hundred followers and was not very well known. Well, not until this story blew up. The ACLU ended defending the blogger and threatened to sue Ms. Swift if she chose to pursue this case.

I will be honest. I am not a huge fan of Ms. Swift or her so-called embrace of feminism. I find her to be a hypocrite for a variety of reasons and her brand as a feminist is one of them. Her brand has been more divisive than collective and her “squad” is essentially a group of White elitist women who attack anyone who has a constructive criticism against Ms. Swift. This white elitist “squad” is the very essence of why the women’s movement/feminism of the second wave failed at being inclusive of women of color, poor women, etc.. Although I respect her business savvy, she and her management’s relentless attempts at copyright strikes inflicted on people who remotely have more than a few seconds of Swift’s content, usually find their work being removed or demonetized. This strikes a chord with me that Swift does not actually respect freedom or free speech. Now that may have been a scathing and biased review of Swift and I do think that she is a very philanthropic woman, but I do not think any of this excuses her actions and continuous disregard for others to pursue free speech in America. Her decision to send a cease and desist letter backfired and only led to criticism and a harsher view of Swift than she has already been subjected to in the past few years.

According to the blog post,“Swift is the icon of white supremacist, nationalists, and other fringe groups” (Rosenblatt). It is important to note that it is ridiculous to say that Taylor Swift is a white supremacist but the ability to say it should be protected.The ACLU deserves respect for standing up to Ms. Swift and her team of lawyers. Blogs like these should be able to invoke criticism of public figures and public officials freely without the fear of being sued for defamation. First of all, celebrities have access to news organizations and platforms of greater audiences to use and to clear their name. Ms. Swift is a very credible figure and if she thought this was damaging her reputation she could have used a variety of mediums like Twitter to address her concerns and it would have been widely covered by the media. In addition, the ACLU believes that Ms. Swift was using “intimidation tactics” to “suppress speech.” These intimidation tactics by her lawyer were in fact in breach of a constitutional law. Blog posts are a medium of free speech. One should be allowed to talk about popular culture and issues they may have with certain public figures that they disagree with and the fear of suppression is in opposition to the values of free press and speech. As the ACLU cleverly put it, “Criticism is never pleasant, but a celebrity has to shake it off, even if the critique may damage her reputation” (Rosenblatt). Ms. Swift should indeed “shake it off” and leave free press and speech where it should be.

Sources:

  1. http://popfront.us/2017/09/swiftly-to-the-alt-right-taylor-subtly-get-the-lower-case-kkk-in-formation/
  2. https://www.nbcnews.com/pop-culture/pop-culture-news/bad-blood-aclu-criticizes-taylor-swift-legal-threats-against-blogger-n818341
  3. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/11/07/aclu-scolds-taylor-swift-for-effort-to-protect-reputation/?utm_term=.2b280ea736eb
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0-lK3BY2dg

Feminist Fridays: Beat Them and Join Them- The Triumphant Story of Danica Roem

The infamous transgender bathroom bill. Virginia. The Chief Homophobe.

The man who helped draft and create the transgender bathroom bill to mandate and regulate who gets to use what bathroom based on their assigned sex at birth was defeated in the House of Representatives race in Virginia, earlier this week. Why was this historic? Well, the “chief homophobe” was defeated by the very person who he spewed most of his hate towards, Danica Roem, a transgender woman who ran for the Democratic Party.  The smile on the faces of many who support LGBTQ rights nationwide reigned true this week. Her historic win as the first transgender woman to become an elected official signaled great changes during our polarizing political times.

Unfortunately, many progressives are stuck with Donald Trump for another several years but Virginia’s historic election was significant for many reasons. First, Danica Roem’s victory was a victory for the Democratic Party. Virginia has recently shifted more towards the progressive side shying away from conservativism and being able to get more Democrats in the House and Senate dominated by Republicans currently is crucial. Second, this election cycle was a signal to the President by many progressives that his hateful rhetoric will not stand. Let us not forget that Virginia was also home to the Charlottesville riots that occurred early this year. There is a lot at stake with changing and not having a government in power that is conducive to hate like Mr. Trump. Even though Sir “Chief Homophobe” was an incumbent which significantly raises one’s chance of being elected again because of your known presence in the community and financial support, he lost because the people of Virginia no longer support his message. Third and most importantly, this success for a transgender woman was a necessary win for humanity. A transgender woman in power will hopefully give my generation and those beyond it, the fuel to power their dreams no matter what is between (or not between) their legs. One’s gender should not stand in the way of being able to pursue a political dream or any kind for that matter. If Hillary Clinton’s historic run is not proof enough. The “Chief Homophobe” focused too much on disparaging Roem and her gender/ identity politics that he failed to see that he was not a representative for the people. Danica said it best:

“Roem dedicated her win “’to every person who’s ever been singled out, who’s ever been stigmatized, who’s ever been the misfit, who’s ever been the kid in the corner, who’s ever needed someone to stand up for them when they didn’t have a voice of their own. This one is for you.”’ (Olivo)

I am hopeful that this unprecedented election will continue more and more and that gender will matter less and less even though there are politicians like the “Chief Homophobe” and Trump working to aggravate the people and further divide them based on identity politics. It is time to have a sigh of relief and celebrate but it is also important to continue to work hard to improve the lives of the marginalized and silenced in America.

 

Sources:

 

 

Feminist Friday- A Look At The #MeToo Movement

It would be hard to go through social media, pop culture, or even Google without seeing the new movement that has arisen in the past few months. The #MeToo Movement. The #MeToo Movement represents a growing class of survivors of sexual assault and harassment from those in the entertainment industry speaking out about the harms they have faced at the hands of those in power.

                         

I would argue that one of the first women to come out and speak about the sexual assault she faced at the hands of one of the most powerful men in the music industry was Kesha. Kesha attempted to fight to get out of her contract after years of being subjected to sexual assault by Dr. Luke. However, after her court case was ruled in favor of Dr. Luke there was not much hope for other survivors to come out and speak about their treatments. In addition, over 50 women came out and spoke about the sexual misconduct of Bill Cosby against them. He was also not completely held accountable for his actions. Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes were also revealed to have committed years of atrocities against women that worked alongside them and both lost their jobs, as the outrage continued (CBS News). Finally, one of the most visible cases in the news has been reported about Harvey Weinstein. Several women have come forth and discussed his predatory nature. Some of the biggest names in the industry like Kate Beckinsale, Cara Delevingne, Rose McGowan, and so many more (Moniuzcko). It seems pretty obvious that many women within the industry have experienced these horrendous conditions and will no longer accept it. These women and men are role models for many in the public and as survivors using their voice for good has been vital to change these horrific conditions.

The #MeToo movement represents something even bigger. Its a movement that may be the most visible within the entertainment industry but it permeates throughout all professional working environments and in general, society. The first step to ending the acceptance of rape culture throughout society and media is using the voices of the most privileged in the entertainment industry to effect change. It may seem shocking to some men that all their favorite directors, producers, actors, etc. were actually sexual predators but this is occurring in more places than just the entertainment industry. The entertainment industry was just another industry that kept the sexual assault and harassment epidemic in the workplace quiet and hush-hush. In addition, many of these survivors were fearful that if they spoke up they would be shamed, lose their jobs and opportunities, and maybe even their careers. These are shared fears by victims of all walks of life. This movement is so much more than getting these predatory directors, actors, etc. out of the business but it is about solidarity and courage. If one of these women or men who are survivors speak up as role models they may influence other’s ability and desire to come out to speak about their trauma in their own regular lives.

 

Websites:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2017/10/27/weinstein-scandal-complete-list-accusers/804663001/

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/me-too-campaign-floods-social-media-sexual-harassment-abuse/

http://www.instyle.com/celebrity/transformations/kate-beckinsales-changing-looks